Saturday, July 11, 2009

On Neighborhoods

A recent article in Crosscut seems to pretty accurately capture much of our local discussions on neighborhoods and preserving their viability as places where people want to live.

Because Seattle is often cited as an example of livable neighborhoods, these observations will likely resonate with those wishing to emulate practices which encourage and improve neighborhood quality.

One argument seems to stand out; older neighborhoods, especially those established in the 1950's or before, often are cited as the best examples.
That fits with the idea of 'neighborhood character' which is an often heard phrase that can mean different things to different folks.

Newer and developing neighborhoods don't appear to attract as much positive interest, although I do think it is critically important to continue encouraging those practices which lead towards neighborhood cohesion, desirability and the things that combine to produce the kind of neighborhood character that attracts and holds residents.

Not lost in the opinions expressed is the idea that 'walkability' can just be created by installing sidewalks, trails and bike lanes.
There also need to be local destinations and businesses where people want to go -or need to visit- often.

You know, those 'urban center' type places that get talked about in planning exercises.
Much easier to keep what already exists than to create new ones that people are willing to accept it seems.

Unless, of course, we can encourage enough mixed use development of the sort that make auto travel less necessary.

Anyway, see what you think.